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Christine Caine posted on fb recently “I encourage you today to embrace the change necessary in order to grow into the success that God has prepared for you. God calls us to step up and into His promises and purposes, and He will give you the grace to run your race.” ~ Christine Caine
We have to be aware of our weaknesses and be prepared to grow and deal with our stuff. We all have stuff. We all have flaws. We waste an enormous amount of energy trying to cover up our sins, our hurts, our hang-ups, and our defects. If we spent as much time being honest about what’s not right in our life as we do covering it up, we’d have a lot more energy for what is right in our life.
The thing about weaknesses is that we often on our strengths but leave ourselves vulnerable to attack, or to falling over in that area. During WW2 Singapore was a very powerful military base. With a seemingly impenetrable jungle behind it they focused all their defences towards the sea. However the city was conquered, not by sea but by the Japanese who cut a single track bicycle track through the jungle.
The battle for sin starts in our mind, not in our behaviour. The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. If we want to change the way we act, we start by changing the way you think and feel by aligning it to the Word of God.
This is the beauty of the call of God, that he chooses to do extraordinary things with ordinary people, with broken people, with messy people. He uses rescued people to rescue people. That takes courage in itself, to be open to God. We know He sees all and knows all but how many of us like to pretend that that there are places in our heart that He cannot see? Or is that just me? We have a responsibility to not stay the same, to not hide from ourselves but to be honest and to let God into those places.
God uses change to change us. He doesn’t use it to destroy us or to distract us, but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion and destiny! God uses change to transform us so we can live a best life and have relationshi8ps that flourish and can make the most of the opportunities that come our way.
“It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes me and then I change things.” (Oswald Chambers)
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
I believe that God is good all the time.
He is not the author of suffering and pain.
But life involves life and pain and problems and stretching.
This is normal, natural.
We live in a fallen world and are targets to a ruthless enemy.
But in that, even in that, God is good and is always at work to restore and bring goodness out of the difficult seasons.
He has a solution for every problem (but, how many times do we not like His suggested solutions!)
He does not abandon us to the darkness but walks with us, in every moment.
What the enemy means for our destruction, God uses for our growth.
If you are walking through a difficult season here are 3 things to encourage you:
1. Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
This is good news for us. When we walk through trial, God is with us. When we walk through darkness, God is with us. When we walk through pain, God is with us. When we walk through flood, God is with us. When we walk through fire, God is with us.
His presence protects us so we are not overwhelmed or scorched.
But yes, we have to walk through those waters and the fire.
2. Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
This is good news and good truth. This is real truth. Often when in the dark spaces of our life we can think that some of the Word of God is just nice cliche or lovely platitudes, but it is real truth. You can stake your life on it. You can count on it.
3. Psalm 121 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Sometimes in the dark seasons we have to CHOOSE to look up and see the stars. We have to CHOOSE to have faith. We have to CHOOSE to trust God and believe His promises.
I can tell you from experience that I isnt easy. But worth it.
How do you see the stars in the dark times?
Dry spells are the instrument of God, for your good. Yes, it is true in such times, your five senses have been deprived and all outward progress of outward piety ends. Know this; In such times you are either going to leave off prayer and perhaps even a large part of your Christian walk, or you will be drive to a comfort which has nothing to do with the outward sense.” Molinos from 100 Days In The Secret Place (by Gene Edwards)
Currently in New Zealand we are experiencing one of our hottest summers in record. Last week, as we flew over Blenheim, the contrast of the lush greenness of the well kept vineyards and the barren dryness of the surrounding hills was extreme. They need rain.
The earth is not the only place where things can be dry. We experience seasons where we struggle, where we falter, where we doubt, where we feel dry.
In these dry places we learn to persevere and to draw near to God regardless of how we feel and what we sense. In this time God is still at work, even more so I would think, as He develops strength of character and hunger for Him. We learn to pray in new ways, to seek after God and to in that action to hold onto our faith and beliefs. We may even find our beliefs and faith changing as things that are built on works and feelings and comfortability fall away. We may discover that we do know in our deepest parts that God does love me and knows me and forgives me – despite all our failings and unworthiness.
In a dry spell the greatest watering and growth can occur.
Even if we know nothing else we can have hope in WHO God Is. God is God, the God of mercy and compassion, love and peace, grace and hope, Jehovah our Provider, Jehovah our Healer, Jehovah our Breakthrough. He is the same today, yesterday and will be tomorrow. He will never leave or depart us, never abandon us. Our names are written on the palm of his hand, and there are nail scars to reinforce the point.
On the Cross Jesus said I THIRST. The maker of heaven and earth, the Lord of Lords, the one who gives living water so we will never thirst again, thirsted.
Martha says an interesting thing to Jesus when he arrives after her brothers death : ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’
Martha “even now you can do impossible things” – that phrase even now speaks with faith despite circumstances. Even now despite what is going on, Jesus you can move and work and redeem and rescue.
Even now God can heal your family relationships
Even now God can change your life
Even now God can provide
Even now God can heal
Even now God can set you free from fear, insecurity, shame, doubt
Jesus can bring life to hopeless situations we’ve given up on as dead
Jesus resurrects people that feel dead on the inside and makes them alive with second chances
Jesus can resurrect dreams that have been killed by discouragement and disappointment
Jesus can speak life into your failing relationship and bring hope where it is hopeless
Nothing is impossible for God – No one is impossible for God. Your husband is not impossible for God. Your wife is not impossible for God. Your parents are not impossible for God. Your kids are not impossible for God.
God’s delays are not His denials – that IS that Lazarus was in was such an important part of “his life” and what God was doing.
What is your even now moment?
“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift.” — Francis Chan
Sometimes God is doing something in your life for others to see. Your life is part of a greater story that He is weaving, a bigger picture. Sometimes the things that are happening in our life are not just for our own living and experience but for those around us. God uses our lives to demonstrate His reality and grace.
We are called to know Him and make Him known.
Jesus said to his disciples Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad so that you may believe.
At the tomb entrance Jesus prayed I have said this for the benefit of the people standing here, so that they may believe you sent me””
In the prison where Paul and Silas were chained and singing – the other prisoners were listening. Paul and Silas’ captivity just wasnt about them but it was part of the bigger picture.
So what does this say about God?
It says that God is at work in all circumstances of my life. It says that He knows that is going on and that He is the master author of the story of my life. He is big enough to know all the plot twists.
Isaiah 55 says For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.
God is good. All the time. We say that, almost as a catch phrase. Nike, just do it. 30 seconds spray and walk away. Bazinga. May the force be with you. God is good. All the time.
But it’s not just a catch phrase. There is a reality there that sometimes we dismiss. Sometimes our heart says God is good when life is good. Full stop. We dont allow the phrase to stretch over into other, more painful areas, of our life.
I was reading in Job the other night – and we know Job’s catch phrase – Though he slay me, I will trust Him” (job 13:15) – and in job 1 I was blown away again by Job’s response and real life action w hen he heard his sheep were dead, his camels were dead, his kids were dead etc
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I shall depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.’
We often colour God with the same crayolas humanity are coloured in. People have bad intentions. People have grumpy pmt days. People mess with ya. People vomit their own negative emotions over you. Their motivations are squewed and they’re living for number one.
But God is good, all the time. He doesn’t have bad intentions. He doesn’t have bad hair days. His motivations are correct. He isn’t messing with your life. Everything He does is filled with goodness. Everything He does comes from a heart of goodness. Everything He does is right. God does nothing by accident. He is an on purpose God.
What does this say about me?
“You’re either going to live your life defined by what you go through or by Who you belong to.” @Stevenfurtick
Jesus said in this life you WILL have trouble, but trouble does not need to define you or discourage you. You can rise because Jesus is risen. You can have hope because God is faithful to His promises. You can be joyous because God is at work. You can have peace because God gives peace despite what is going on around us.
My choice is to say YES to God and to believe.
Those dark days may be the most richest, character forming, life changing of your life. They certainly were for Lazarus, for his sisters, for his community, for the disciples.
Jesus did something remarkable through Lazarus’ life and death that was on centre stage for everyone to see. Lazarus’ death and then resurrection were for all to see. They were part of a greater story that God was weaving.
What is God doing in your life? What does He want to demonstrate to the world around you? What is the big picture?
Over the weekend I was priv’d to be at a Cleansing Streams Retreat day. I had gone along with our SAS crew as their coordinator, to be their in this part of their journey, be there if they needed a hug or an ear, and for myself too, to draw closer to God, to deal with any obstacles and hindrances.
The Cleansing Streams Retreat day was beautifully and powerfully presented, with great teaching and ministry times. It was a very considered and wise approach to becoming free in such a group context, dealing with the spiritual heart of an issue and yet filled with love and joy and peace. It was challenging at parts but non-threatening because of the graceful atmosphere and environment that the leaders intentionally create.
This was one of the clips that they played over the day to bring our attention to the change and freedom that Jesus was giving, inside out.
Jesus takes who we are, just as we are, and He makes us new. Brand new. No shame. No guilt.
It’s no longer about what I’ve done, but about what He has done. Our acceptability is in Him.
Yes we have struggles and vulnerabilities and sin, but nothing will separate us from His great love not because of anything we can do to earn or repay salvation but because of grace. His grace transforms me, inside out.
Do you know how Jesus sees you?
"Here’s the dangerous thing about Jesus: He’s not after your behaviour; he’s after your heart. Make no mistake about it. Jesus is going to relentlessly and passionately pursue your heart. Even when your behaviour tricks everybody else, it just doesn’t trick Jesus. He’s coming after the heart." ~ Perry Noble
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7
i couldnt say it better than this woman in her tedtalk :
Our minds change reality to reflect the biases that we have inside our own heads.
When we admit who we really are, we have the opportunity to change.